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The Residence
Photograph courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources

This compact plantation house was built c.1793 for William Madison, member of the Virginia House of Delegates for seven consecutive terms and brother of President James Madison. In 1793 James Madison asked Thomas Jefferson to supply plans for a house for his brother. Jefferson, a close friend of the president, suggested a floor plan for a seven-room house in a geometric configuration that is a hallmark of Jefferson's residential design. James Madison later wrote to Jefferson saying that William had adopted the plans. No Jefferson drawings have been positively identified as the Madison design, but the correspondence authenticates the Jefferson connection. The original, unacademic two-column portico suggests, however, that Jefferson was not involved in the execution.

View of The Residence in the 1970s
Photograph from National Register Collection, courtesy of Virginia Historic Landmarks

In 1870 the property was purchased by Robert Stringfellow Walker, who remodeled the house in 1884. It was here that Walker founded Woodberry Forest School in 1889, naming it after the Madison plantation. The house was renamed the Residence and became the headmaster's house. Walker hired a tutor to educate his six sons and neighboring children. The first classes were taught in a room of The Residence. Additions made in 1884 changed the effect from Palladian to Victorian. Other renovations in 1948 created a large drawing room by eliminating partitions between three rooms, one of which was used as a back porch by the Madison family.

The Residence is located within the Woodberry Forest School, in Woodberry Forest and is the private residence of the headmaster. For more information visit the school's website.


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